Pepro LLC

FirstNet's Goals Shouldn't Include Voice

Aug 04, 2014 | Posted in -- The Pepro Blog

As we get closer to the deadlines and milestones on the path to a nationwide public safety broadband network (including FirstNet's meeting with Maryland last week, marking the first state consultation) we are becoming more aware of what the potential changes will mean for organizations of every size, and in every corner of the country. Leading industry voices echo what we hear from people we meet on the front lines and in industry conferences like this week's APCO International.

While there is much to gain from the additional services FirstNet promises to provide, there is likely a far better chance to realize those gains by taking a supplemental rather than replacement strategy when it comes to LMR. By helping communities and organizations enhance their first responder capabilities without introducing the slightest question about the quality and reliability of the voice commutations that have proven so effective until now, FirstNet would be celebrated for every new accomplishment rather than greeted with reluctance and doubt. As Andrew Seybold recently said, "when my sheriff, police chief, fire chief, and EMS director all come to trust voice over LTE and are ready to turn off their LMR systems, the LTE network will be ready for voice and not until."

Taking voice off the list of goals for the current deadlines also allows FirstNet more time to find the partners it needs and provide assurances that its voice capabilities meet all of the needed specifications without holding up all of the many data benefits of LTE. There is still time to make FirstNet a fantastic development in the world of public safety communication, but there is clearly not enough time to make the market believe it is ready to be the voice carrier we all need it to be.